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Andy the cardician
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Profile of Andy the cardician
Despite the light tone of the title – this is a rather difficult and controversial subject. So this might be rather long, so bear with me, as I am sure you will benefit from this.


Hype is defined by as
1. Excessive publicity and the ensuing commotion: the hype surrounding the murder trial.

2.Exaggerated or extravagant claims made especially in advertising or promotional material: “It is pure hype, a gigantic PR job” (Saturday Review).

3.An advertising or promotional ploy: “Some restaurant owners in town are cooking up a $75,000 hype to promote New York as ‘Restaurant City, U.S.A.’” (New York).

4.Something deliberately misleading; a deception: “[He] says that there isn't any energy crisis at all, that it's all a hype, to maintain outrageous profits for the oil companies” (Joel Oppenheimer).


So, what does this have to do with a beginner in magic?

The answer is – beginners are most prone to become a victim of hyping. Their desire to astonish, impress and amaze is their biggest weakness. I have shared in a previous post that you can not buy yourself a shortcut.

Sadly - Beginners are the cash cows of the magic industry.

The internet is a great tool and place. My knowledge in magic has multiplied thanks to this media. On the other side, it has also made me purchase things that I would never have bought on my own - in the past. I have learned my part and today I want to share my insights with all of you.

Before I continue, let me state that my following comments are not specifically directed towards this forum, but to the net in general.

Okay . . let us start the journey. . . .

Let me ask you. How often have you read comments like –

"This trick alone is worth the price of the product "
"I wish he would not release it, as I want to keep it for myself"
"I can not believe that he shares this "
"I hope there will be no reprint "
"This guy rocks, a must have . . ."

and so on and so on. . .

Does the following sounds familiar?
You read these comments, and then take a look at the product. Suddenly, it seems to be the answer to your prayers, THE One and Only THING that will excel you and your magic. After reading a couple of other enthusiastic posts, you reach for your credit card and shell out your hard earned cash. A couple of days later, you have it in your hands. Your anticipation shifts into disappointment. It is nice . . . well, okay . . . after all, you bought it . . .
Truth to be told, you try hard to gain something out of it. Then you put it away - forever.

There are several explanations for this – your magic is either not at the level to appreciate the product, or (and that is most likely the case) you are the victim of hyping.

You need to understand that not all positive voices are genuine. Some reasons
behind it –
The poster
. . . knows the author of the product and wants to support the sales.
. . . publishes in the same company/producer and wants to support the company
. . . wants to repay for a positive review of his own product – I rub yours, you rub mine . . .
. . . has a financial interest – related to the project, running his own magic shop.
. . . has received a free copy of the product and feels obliged to respond in a positive way.
. . . has attended a lecture or show of the author and is biased by the past experienced.
. . . is a bandwagon hyper.

Let me talk about the bandwagon hyper.
This kind of poster wants to show that he also is in the know.
“Look at me, I am part of the club” – kind of statement.
And here is the caveat. The bandwagon hyper will not write a negative comment as he wants to be part of the wave, he does not want to go against the opinion of people who he regards as more knowledgeable and experienced. Without knowing it, this poster has become a partner in crime.

Now, the challenge is to distinguish between genuine positive opinions and a hyping wave. As there are also genuinely opinions using similiar words as I listed up above.

Some tips on how to detect the grim hyper:

Read the positive comments carefully.

Search for reasons for hyping – some I have mentioned above

Look at the length of the post. A truly impressed person tends to write a lot about the product, as he is impressed.

Watch the wording – the more marketing like the post sounds, the bigger should be the suspicion. Of course, you might have a poster that is a marketer in his day job . . .

Watch the content – people write what is on their mind. Is the poster talking about buying, value of the trick equals the price and other financial indicators? Or is he talking about how amazed he was with a certain trick or handling?

Is the review almost identical to the official advertisement? Ask yourself, how come?

Take a look at the poster, look at his previous posts etc.. Try to understand where his opinion is coming from. Has this guy ever posted a negative view etc . . .

I could go on forever, but I think this should be enough to trigger your own thoughts and filter process.

If you donate some of the money that you have saved after reading this to a charity, I would be much obliged.

And please . . . never become a bandwagon hyper . . .

Cards never lie
Father Photius
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Let's not forget there are some seasoned veterans who fall for that hype too. But good point, newbies should be aware that real reputation maker, etc. isn't near as good as it sounds. A visit to any of the many pitch type magic stores in Las Vegas would convince a newbie that these overpriced pitch and hyped effects are what is going to make them the next Sigfried and Roy, but all it makes them is another newbie who has been taken advantage of. Good post, Andy.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
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Profile of DanielSkahen
A great, insightful post. I think all humans are at least somewhat wired to value "new," never realizing that products that have sustained themselves on the market for decades have the MOST credibility. Part of this, I think, is the fact that new magic is the most and best marketed by companies. I wonder what would happen if old staples were delivered with the same quality of marketing.

At the same time, I think it's really important to keep an open mind about new innovations. The other side of the coin is the fact that competent inventors stand on the shoulders of giants and can therefore sometimes transcend many of the classics. But my rule of thumb is this:

Don't purchase a product before it has been out 100 days. If they judge US presidents by their first 100 days, magic tricks might as well be held to the same test. After 100 days, if the product is still on the market, the hype will have chipped away, leaving only the most honest and objective rules.

Really great post, again. Thanks for writing it out.
- Dan Skahen
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Profile of trickytrav
Great post Andy
I have also bought a lot of rubbish down the years (fallen into hype trap).I now use the Café and other forums to gauge an effect before I buy.I now tend to buy books and dvds more than tricks theres more milage in them for your money.
A few months ago I bought an item I shall not name it was hyped very much.When I got the effect and watched the dvd the method was very clever but just achieved the same result as a brainwave deck although it could be shown both sides.In hindsight I know I should have just saved my money.
I now ask myself these questions before even contemplating buying an effect.
Can it be done using regular cards (do I know a method?)Do I have a deck that can achieve same effect e.g Invisible Deck or Svengali.If so I leave it alone and buy a good book.
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Profile of ViciousCycle
In magic, the alternative to hard work is also hard work. Hype is what makes one believe otherwise.

Earlier this year, I bought a great card magic book and had buyer's regret when I started flipping through the book and saw the dreaded 4-letter f-word a lot ("faro") a lot. The first impulse was to toss the book aside and go find something else. But then I realized that if, for now, I pass by all of the tricks that depend on faro, there was enough in the book to challenge me for quite a long time. There's always the temptation to go buy something different when one hits a wall. But this is magic we're talking about. When Houdini was confronted with a wall, he walked through it. =)
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Once again, another excellent post Andy, with solid advice just like your previous post. Some of the discussion is also relevant in this thread: Should I buy another trick?
As I posted there, "Beginners and amateurs often fall prey to the temptation of buying new tricks, more tricks, lusting after that one "killer" effect, and thinking that the next trick they will buy will be the holy grail that will bring them to the next level of success in magic. In reality, what's often needed instead is working on the presentation of the effects they already know."

What's wrong with hype? It rarely mentions the hard work needed to make even the best trick a success, namely, showmanship and presentation. Hype is often its own form of magic and illusion - it suggests that when you buy a trick it will be a "killer" effect out of the box that will instantly make the world fall at your feet. This is, of course, just an illusion, because without practice and performance, even the most killer effect will fall flat.

BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame - click here to see all my pictorial reviews: => Magic Reviews <==> Playing Card Reviews <==> Board Game Reviews <==
Andy the cardician
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Profile of Andy the cardician
Thanks a lot guys . . . I had this one on my chest for quit some time and was not sure how this will be perceived and what discussion this would trigger. So your opinion really matters to me. Especially experience reports like trickytrav's one.
It is not my intention to start an accusation war between individuals, but as all of you stated above, to help beginners to make the right choices.

Truth to be told, as Father Photius pointed out, even seasoned magicians can fall for the hype, and I am the first to addmit that also I feel the urge to get a certain product reading all the ravings and comments.

The motivated beginner is in a very difficult position as he is almost dying to step up and perform. There are ways out - as mentioned by ViciousCycle and Topov - but those ways out require hard work. Here is where the hype becomes a real danger. Comments like "I floored my girlfriend/audience/momma last night with it" do suggest that anyone can do the same . . .

Great advice from Daniel with his 100 day recommendation. Let me build on this -get the product/picture/advertisement/related posts out of your sight when ordering.

Cards never lie
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Profile of 0045
I agree 100% with everything you said, I have just made a post elsewhere in the Café stressing the importance of research before handing over your cash.

Your post goes much further in explaining exactly what to look for while doing that research.

Well done, sound advice. Beginners please take note there is much wisdom here.

Regards 0045
Bob Sanders
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Magic is not so different from music. Learn the basics. Most of the "new hot stuff" is repackaged "formerly hot stuff".

In my 46 years of magic, the greatest difference I see in card magic is the movement from Aviator to Bicycle cards. That is pure fluff. The effects are the same. Develop your style. There are not any new notes on a piano!

Bob Sanders
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Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz
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I have to agree (mostly) with Bob Sanders.
I have seen a number of books with titles like "learn the guitar in 3 days" "Fret Board mastery in 10 minutes" etc. I have played guitar for years and I have paged through these books and trust me if I tell you can not learn to play the guitar in 3 days. You can learn a song or two or maybe even three or four, but you can not learn the guitar in 3 days. Granted I am no pro guitarist, it has taken me a while to get the notes on the fretboard down and you are not going to learn it in 10 minutes. Not because you are not talented but purely because it is impossible. You need to learn a variety of scales (major, minor harmonic and melodic, pentatonic etc) before you will have any idea. That doesn't take 10 minutes. There has been revolutionaries as to how the guitar is played (Van Halen, Steve Vai, Hendrix) and there has been guys who has presented it differently and made a huge impact (Clapton, the Edge from U2 etc) but the guitar has pretty much stayed the same.
That applies to magic as well in my opinion. There has been the odd Mr L Green who has been revolutionary but other than that it is pretty basic and simple. No prop can give you that.
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The analogy between learning music and learning magic is an excellent one! In the end, both are performing arts with long histories and well-established "classics", and require skill, practice, discipline, and hard work.

Some people are "naturally gifted" musicians. Could the same be said about magicians? Even for naturally gifted musicians, talent doesn't eliminate hard work. And others are so clutzy that no matter how much they practice their music, it still sounds horrible. Could the same be said about magic? Some people have a natural persona and ability with respect to sleights and showmanship, but they still will have to work hard to perform well. On the other hand, are there others who are so deprived of gifts (like the clutzy musician), that they will never be able to do a decent job with magic, no matter how hard they try? To what extent does being a "natural" come into play with magic?

Thanks to everyone for the very useful posts so far in this thread - beginners would do well to work with the wise advice found herein.

BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame - click here to see all my pictorial reviews: => Magic Reviews <==> Playing Card Reviews <==> Board Game Reviews <==
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Profile of Ed_Millis
My son started playing music on his little plastic flute when he was six. He's now in his 20s and plays his own music. I've been thumping on the bass guitar for over 25 years and still have a hard time playing more than the basic riffs.

Likewise, I've been trying magic off and on for more than 10 years. A lot of the "off" time has been because the "on" times were so frustrating! I sat back a bit a few months ago and realized I was trying to force a square peg into a round hole. I was trying to perform magic that wasn't my style, didn't fit my personality, and was a grinding chore to learn.

Now I'm concentrating on effects that fit my vision of what I _want_ to do, and will be fun for me. Likewise, there are some effects that do excite me, but I know I'm not up to snuff to handle them yet. I've never been a card man, and learning card sleights never appealed to me. Then I thought up some routines that were great - except they require some very basic card control. ~Now~ I'm learning card controls!

Don't let an ad create a new hunger inside you. Let the magic feed the hunger you already have.

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I have taught a few guys to play the guitar. Anyone can learn to play a few good songs and sound good. The same cannot be said for singing but if you pick the right songs and play in the right key you will be fine. I can not do a great version of "Yesterday" because it is too difficult. I can play it but I can not sing it well as there are some physucal limitations.
As for magic I think it does appy as well. Not everyone can be a Lennart Green. Soemtimes the difficulty is just too much. As for average effects and sleights done correctly and within the right setting anyone can be a perfroming entertaining magician. Can anyone go on stage and sing a great version of "Yesterday". No, because if you do not have the vocal ability you can't. Can anyone go on stage and play a very entertaining set or two as a one man show or in a band. If you pick the right songs, practice and try to be entertaining rather than a technical master, absolutely yes. Tone deaf people need to practice their "hearing" ability for music but it is very possible and if you really can't sing you can still play.
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Profile of mballen11502
I think this is a great post. I was definitely burned a few times when I recently got back into magic and succombed to the hype over this or that. I'm finding my way slowly and have realized that you get out of magic what you put into it. I feel much more satisfied if I've spent hours in front of the mirror practicing a coin sleight and then execute it well in public than I do performing something like Scotch & Soda even though the latter probably seems more impressive in the eye of the spectator.

I guess there's just no substitute for hard work. I play the guitar as well and there's no question that hard work is the only way to really improve. There's no magic pill for performing tricks any more than there is for any other discipline.

I'll keep practicing and you guys keep up the great posts.
Tina I
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I have a cardboard box filled with props I've bought but never ever used in a performance. I also have some boxes with other kind of junk, much of it bought through some shopping TV programs. Hey... it looked great on TV! Smile

I think it's often with magic props as it is with cleaning; you hope that one day *the* one item comes along that does all the work for you. Of course that never happens.

Over time I have learned though. I still has to vacuum the carpets and wash the windows to keep a clean house and I still have to keep practicing the classic palm to survive a show. And I keep reminding my self: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is...
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Profile of MagiClyde
Actually, there are some tricks that are hyped precisely because they ARE good.

I have seen tricks performed that fooled me enough to have me lay my money down on them. When I would go home, I would open up the package, discover how the trick was done, lose all sense of mystery for it or realize that it would require WORK to master, then I'd put it away after a few attempts.

The problem in each of these cases wasn't that the trick was necessarily bad, after all, I wouldn't have bought it if it hadn't impressed me. The problem was that the person performing the trick could do it well and I couldn't because I wasn't willing to take the time to master it.

In the end, I came to the same conclusion as other, more experienced, folks have, that a good, even small, selection of books and DVD's that have stood the test of time and that can teach well are far better than all the tricks one can purchase at a store or online.

The other inescapable truth is that there is no substitute for practice, practice, practice. Better to master a few good skills than be a jack of all magical trades. Perhaps the one story that most impressed me was the one about Howard Thurston who met an enthusiastic admirer. The young man stated that he knew how to perform over 100 card tricks. When he asked Thurston how many he knew, Thurston's (very telling) response was that he only knew about 8. It isn't about quantity, it's about quality.

When Houdini was confronted with a wall, he walked through it.

Houdini didn't just confront walls, he would even go so far as to actually build them!
Magic! The quicker picker-upper!
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Profile of ViciousCycle
Some purchased effects lose their value as you develop skill. i.e. Now that I can do a natural looking force, I'm not inclined to pull out the Split Deck trick and do the contrived force that the trick requires. Now that I fool others with the Triumph trick with an ordinary deck of cards, I'm not inclined to pull out the Cheek to Cheek trick. When one is buying tricks, one has to take a long-range view. In Chicago, magician Benjamin Barnes does a very slick linking rings routine. And he says that he practiced the ring for years before he was ready to perform for others. And it shows. He does them very fluently. You can't have that type of mastery if you're constantly buying tricks that you'll outgrow in a short amount of time.
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I suppose the problem, for a beginner, though, is to actually KNOW which effects they are likely to outgrow. Being a beginner feels a lot like stumbling in the dark, as I recall. You're just BOUND to bump your head a few times.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
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Profile of MikeOB
I fall into this category of falling for the hype. I will go out and buy something then after learning how it is done or performing for family and friends I put it away. I just started going through my old chest full of stuff that I used once maybe twice and started using again after 20 years. But I learned to trust the people on the Café to find out if a trick is worth it. I love gimmicks not so much to perform but just marvel at how someone came up with some of the ideas for the effects.
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We might want to be careful about this. I attended a Max Howard lecture some years ago where he presented quite a different idea. He brought a trick that he said sorely disappointed him originally. He bought it years ago from the back of a magazine. It was large disks and a cylinder.

He learned it and set it aside. Hating the whole thing.

Then he picked it up later and got a brainstorm. Some sanding and paint and the disks became gold coins and something else (I forgot). He performed the trick the way it was sold then his way.

His way was mesmerizing.

Sometimes gold really doesn't glitter.
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